02 June, 2012

Rwandan Genocide 1994: Conviction of Callixte Nzabonimana

Rwandan Genocide 1994:


From April to July 1994, members of the Hutu ethnic majority in the east-central African nation of Rwanda murdered as many as 800,000 people, mostly of the Tutsi minority. Begun by extreme Hutu nationalists in the capital of Kigali, the genocide spread throughout the country with staggering speed and brutality, as ordinary citizens were incited by local officials and the Hutu Power government to take up arms against their neighbours. By the time the Tutsi-led Rwandese Patriotic Front
gained control of the country through a military offensive in early July, hundreds of thousands of Rwandans were dead and many more displaced from their homes. The RPF victory created 2 million more refugees (mainly Hutus) from Rwanda, exacerbating what had already become a full-blown humanitarian crisis.

The ICTR:

In October 1994, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), located in Tanzania, was established.  In 1995, the ICTR began indicting and trying a number of higher-ranking people for their role in the Rwandan genocide; the process was made more difficult because the whereabouts of many suspects were unknown. The trials continued over the next decade and a half, including the 2008 conviction of three former senior Rwandan defense and military officials for organizing the genocide. 

The ICTR has come under criticism for being too slow.

Latest Conviction - Callixte Nzabonimana:

The latest conviction is that of Callixte Nzabonimana - (pictured).  The ICTR Trial Chamber has found that on 14 April 1994 at Cyayi centre, Nzabonimana instigated the killing of Tutsis taking refuge at the Nyabikenke commune office, and that between 15 and 60 Tutsis were subsequently killed. The Trial Chamber further found Nzabonimana guilty of three separate incidents of Direct and Public Incitement.  Nzabonimana directly and publicly incited the killing of Tutsis at the Butare trading centre on or about 12 April 1994, at Cyayi centre on 14 April 1994, and at Murambi on 18 April 1994.

It also found Nzabonimana guilty of entering into two separate agreements to kill Tutsis in Gitarama préfecture. Nzabonimana entered into an agreement to kill Tutsis with members of the Interim Government on 18 April 1994, and entered into another agreement with Jean Damascene Ukirikyeyezu to kill Tutsis in May 1994.  

A single sentence of life imprisonment has been imposed - see Summary of the Judgment and Sentence.  It is likely that there will now be an appeal to the ICTR Appeals Chamber.

Legal Definition of Genocide:

Genocide Shocked the World
The ICTR Statute defines genocide as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
( a ) Killing members of the group;

( b ) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

( c ) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

( d ) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

( e ) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. 

The ICTR Statute is in line with the definition in Article 2 of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

The same definition is used in the International Criminal Court Statute and. in English law, the same definition is adopted in the International Criminal Court Act 2001 - see section 50 and Schedule 8.



Foreign and Commonwealth Office - web page on Rwanda

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